. Generally considered by the Indian
s, and in particular by the Sioux
, to be their greatest warrior of all time together with Sitting Bull
officers called him "the greatest warrior of his time".) Unlike most others he never bragged about his feats and showed no interest in painting and decorating himself with feathers and rarely attended social and religious ceremonies which were big and important parts of the Indian life. Even in consultations he sat quiet and listened, but his advice was always sought-after. Everybody knew he never wanted personal gain or advantages and that his advice was always well thought out and for the best of the nation. He often sought isolation and could sit out in the wilderness for days to find solutions to his tribe's people's problems, in a world invaded by the white people.
Crazy Horse was born in 1842 in a copse at Rapid Creek in North Dakota. His father was the well-known Shaman Crazy Horse who belonged to the Oglala tribe, one of the seven tribes of the Sioux nation. His mother was Spotted Tail's sister. He was given the name Curly because of his hair. Curly's mother died when he was two years old. His father then married Curly's mother's younger sister in accordance to the practices of the prairie Indians. Curly got a little brother, Little Hawk, who became his most faithful friend.
One day when he was twelve years old, Curly set out to the wilderness to seek a vision. After days of fasting and staying up, he finally got his revelation. He saw his pony galloping towards him. A warrior sat on the pony which constantly changed colors, and enemies who shot at him appeared in front of him all the time but he rode right through without getting hurt. The warrior did seem to have problems with his own people though; his men tried to hold him back but he got off and continued riding on. Curly kept his vision secret for three years before he told his father about it, who interpreted it as a sign from Wakan-Tanka (which is the Sioux name for the highest god) that Curly would become a great leader, live for his people and be invincible in combat as long as he didn't seek personal gain.
In 1858 when Curly was 16 years old he participated in a fight which gave him his reputation of being a brave and reckless warrior. The Sioux bumped into a band of enemies who quickly took cover among some inaccessible cliffs on a height where they shot at the Indians with rifles. The Indians' arrows didn't have much effect and they began to despair when Curly suddenly stormed towards the enemy in a one-man attack. He got through their defense line and killed an enemy with an arrow before he returned. To his fellow Indians amazement he repeated the same attack again, this time with a revolver in his hand. Another enemy fell and instead of trying to quickly return to his own men he hesitated and took the enemies scalps. Because of that, he was wounded in the leg by an arrow and limped back to his men.
He then realised his big mistake, taking personal gain, so he threw away the scalps but the group's leader, High-Backbone, more known as Hump, took them to the village and showed them. Curly's father, Crazy Horse, was so proud over what his son had done that he arranged a ceremony and gave him his own name.
Crazy Horse experienced many tragedies in his life, which made him hate the white people more and more. One event in his childhood which affected him greatly was the massacre at Blue Water in 1854. The white suspected that the Brulé chieftain Little Thunder, designated peace chief by the white, encouraged resistance against them. This suspicion had no foundation but that wasn't revealed until later. General William S. Harney rode into the camp and cunningly negotiated with the indignant Indian chieftain to give his men time to take their positions so there would be no way to escape. When all was ready they attacked without any forewarning. 87 indians were slaughtered, most of them were women and children.
The then 12 year old Crazy Horse, who had been out on a hunt, returned to a burned camp with mutilated bodies spread all over the place, a sight he never forgot. His mentor and friend Hump died in 1870 in a fight against Shoshones and a year later Crazy Horse's little brother Little Hawk was murdered by white gold-diggers. His daughter, They-are-afraid-of-Her, died in 1872 of the feared cholera the white had brought to the land. He mourned for days at her grave.
In 1874 the white people discovered gold in Paha Sapa, the Sioux holy mountain. Many years earlier the Indians had been promised to be able keep the land because the white didn't think it was any good, but when gold was found the region was suddenly very attractive. Crazy Horse tried to get his fellow tribe members to join him in cleaning-out attempts in the mountains but when he did not succeed with this he did it by himself. Many died during his one-man war and he spread terror in the region but it didn't help much. There was a great influx of people and in 1876 there were about 10,000 people in the mountains.
The Americans wanted to "buy" the mountains and put the prairie Indians in reservates. To fulfill legal matters, at least on the paper, the government tried to buy the mountains in 1875 but the indians refused and they decided to defend their land with armed force. This was the origin to the war in which the famous battle at Little Big Horn took place, where the notorious General Custer and his 7:th cavalry met their destiny. The Indians had a few years earlier realized that they had to organize their resistance against the white and looked for strong leaders who could unite the tribes.
They chose Sitting Bull, who was helped by famous leaders like American Horse and Gall. Among them were also Crazy Horse. This new way to fight resulted in the Indians winning many important battles during the first half of 1876, but after Little Big Horn they were scattered. The Americans now used all their resources and their military might seemed so superior that most Indian chieftains surrendered except Sitting Bull, who took his people to Canada, and Crazy Horse who continued with plundering raids against the Americans to get food and ammunition to his increasingly distressed people.
The Americans became more frustrated and it seemed to them that they were hunting ghosts, but it all took a new turn during the winter 1876-77. Crazy Horse finally took the painful decision to surrender to spare his people. So, in May 1877 he rode in with his people to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, to reluctantly trade the freedom for the dreaded life in a reservate. Slandering against him began and people started to spread the rumour that he planned to escape but that he would first murder the highest ranked officer. These rumours were of course not true. The Indians didn't even have any weapons or horses, but despite this he was suspected for revolt against the United States and arrested. When he was brought to the remand prison he struggled to get away but some Indian polices recruited by the Americans held him back. Little Big Man was one of them; he belonged to Crazy Horse's own group. Struggling to break free, one of the white guards stabbed him with a bayonet, thrashing his kidneys. Crazy Horse died after great pain a few hours later. His parents took his body to find an appropriate and secret resting place for him. They died a few years later without telling where they had taken the body; still, nobody knows where the last resting place of Crazy Horse is.